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Malcolm O'Kelly and Mike McCarthy explain why you should be really excited about James Ryan


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This morning on OTB AM, we were joined by two former Ireland locks to give us an insight into what it takes to play in the second row. 

It's a role Malcolm O'Kelly and Mike McCarthy know all too well from their times at international level and at provincial level. 

And as part of their lock special, they also discussed a current Ireland newcomer who's drawing comparisons to a young Paul O'Connell: James Ryan of Leinster.

What makes him so promising in the second row? 

"One thing is he's very athletic. He's also a huge guy," said O'Kelly.

"His physique, like he's not carrying any extra timber. But he's very well built and physically a specimen.

"And because he's so young, he's so powerful. So he's strong and powerful at a very young age."

Watch the full OTB AM below:

Former Leinster second row McCarthy has also seen Ryan at close quarters as a former team-mate. 

"Last season, he was out injured with a hamstring. I was actually out injured last season so I was in the gym with him a lot. He's obviously big, about 6 foot 8, he's got a big frame and really bulked up and filled out," he said.

"And he's had a huge rise from the under-20s when they came second. He led the team really well and then getting capped before he played for Leinster which is phenomenal at 21 - and then playing six of Leinster's Champions Cup games and performing really well."

O'Kelly also pointed out the "great hands" Ryan possesses already and highlighted how Ryan's offloading ability was evident in a high pressure debut match.

"It surprised me how he was able to attract so much attention but still put that offload out so accurately. He's a guy who's able to play football as well."


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